Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GWERU City Council has come up with by-laws to deal with noise pollution, a development that will see offending bars, churches among others being penalised.
Councillors, management and residents’ association representatives met in Masvingo last month and agreed to come up with a holistic programme to deal with noise pollution especially from bars and churches, which is disturbing peace in various suburbs.
During the meeting it was agreed that noise pollution is one of the biggest challenges in the city. Noise pollution had become a nuisance, especially at night.
According to the proposed Gweru (Noise) by-laws, 2021, the new regulations require bars, churches and event organisers to guard against noise pollution in the city or suffer heavy fines. Among the requirements is for bars, churches and event organisers to fit sound-proof equipment.
“Noise can be defined as unwanted or undesirable sound and can materially affect an individual or a community’s health, well-being and enjoyment of their surroundings,” reads part of the proposed by-law.
“Suppression of noise, no person shall, operate or cause or permit to be operated any wireless, loud speaker, gramophone, record player, amplifier, musical instrument or similar device so as to disturb or interfere with the rest, peace and tranquillity of any occupier of premises in the neighbourhood or any in public space; or make any noise disturbances by shouting, yelling or blowing upon any wind instrument, beating upon any drum or other instrument, article or device or by any other means which the noise or disturbances disturb or interferes with the rest or peace tranquillity of any occupier of premises in the neighbourhood or in any public space or public street,” reads the proposed by-law.
The city fathers also said no person shall keep, or cause or permit to be kept, any bird or animal which, by reason of continued or repeated crowing, screeching, barking or whining or other noisy or troublesome habits, causes annoyance, disturbance or inconvenience to any occupier of premises in the neighbourhood or public place. Council can however, issue a temporary noise permit.
“In this section, community events include any word in part, church services, awareness campaigns or any such gathering where people are likely to congregate in large numbers. Promotional event means any event done at a public place, public street or in the neighbourhood to promote a business or event to a target audience.
Any person may submit an application for a temporary noise permit for a community event or promotional event,” reads part of the proposal.
“Churches, bars, and nightclubs must install sound-proof systems or equipment in their buildings so that their noise does not affect the neighbourhood.” Councillors proposed the impounding of equipment, gadgets and machinery causing noise pollution.
“An authorised person may impound any equipment, gadget or machinery found in contravention of any provision of these by-laws. The equipment, gadgets or machinery so impounded shall be taken to a secure place designated for such purpose by the council.
The equipment so impounded shall not be released until the owner pays the prescribed penalty and such removal and storage charges as prescribed by the council from time to time.”
Gweru City Council communications officer Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee said the noise by-laws were some of the by-laws council, management and other stakeholders were working on.
“There will be a full council meeting on Friday (yesterday) where these by-laws need to be adopted before they are made law for the city,” she said.
Churches, some residents said, seem to assume they have a right to make everyone hear their word. “Other residents may not be interested; hence the word is considered as noise. All church structures must have sound-proofing to avoid disturbing the peace of surrounding communities.
Nightclubs and bars should also be noise-proof,” said Mr George Ncube.
However, churches see it differently.
Pastor Mark Takawira of New Word Evangelical Church said,
“There is a need to differentiate between worshipping and making noise. When we praise and worship, when we sing and dance, we are doing it for the Lord and not for flesh. Yes, we can put sound-proof systems but many of us don’t have buildings, we conduct church sessions in open spaces. How do they propose we put sound-proof? We need to reason together.”